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The Evolution of Customer Experience

Last year was a huge year for customer experience, according to the CX Network’s report The Evolution of Customer Experience in 2015.

Customer experience has developed to impact all levels of an organization, from marketing to IT and everything in between, so it is important that the entire organization understands the importance of delivering a customer experience that is in line with the brand.

Big data – smart data

Customers’ expectations are ever-growing and they don’t differ in relation to the type of business they deal with. From supermarket to bank, customers demand the best, regardless of the service or channel, while one good experience sets the standard for all the future experiences. To cater to customer expectations, there has been an increased focus on capturing data for up-to-date insights into consumer needs and trends.

Big data has been used so far to predict sporting events, the outcomes of elections and even crimes before they happen, but the financial industry is the one that can really benefit from the current data explosion and its analysis. However, without structure, big data is essentially unusable, so the key is to turn big data into smart data.

The purpose of smart data is to filter out noise and hold on to the valuable data, which can be efficiently used to solve business problems. Harnessing the power of big data is not about simply analyzing information; it’s about using that information to understand the people behind it with the objective of improving performance of existing processes, or to develop capabilities to predict the next set of outcomes.

Digital strategy

In 2015 there has also been a rise in the digital transformation of organizations and the importance of delivering an online customer experience has grown. The experience has shown that consistency with other, more traditional channels is important for an organization’s digital presence.

It is also vital not to neglect some channels in favor of the new ones, because consumers don’t think in terms of channels – they use what is most efficient at any particular moment. Furthermore, only 11% of consumers want a banking relationship that is exclusively digital, a recent Gallup poll showed.

Consumers who access more channels of a financial institution are actually more likely to also interact with it through traditional channels. They want a mix of options that includes both physical and digital channels and they expect a seamless and convenient experience at any given moment.

Moreover, it is wrong to expect for certain age groups to prefer digital communication. For example, a survey conducted by Salesforce found that human interaction is still a vital component of customer relationship in banking, even for Millennials. Among Americans who employ a financial advisor, 47% of Millennials (ages 18-34) said they prefer to seek out advice in person rather than via phone, email or online, in comparison to 46% of Baby Boomers (ages 50-69) and 36% of Gen X’ers (ages 34-50).

Customer loyalty

The ongoing changes in the financial services industry are largely driven by the consumers and their evolving expectations. Understanding those expectations and understanding customer behavior, needs and motivation can increase customer loyalty, which should be at the core of the strategy of every forward-thinking financial institution.

By not paying enough attention to building customer loyalty, banks are missing out on the opportunity to create powerful advocates and attract repeat business. One research, done by the Collinson Group, found that the biggest frustration for consumers is not being rewarded for their loyalty. But it is also important to take time to tailor those rewards to customers’ needs and behaviors. It has been shown that discounts and cashbacks have a smaller impact than more personalized rewards that take into account the customers’ experiences and lifestyle.

“Access to exclusive events, destinations, restaurants, hotels and services is becoming increasingly important to affluent middle-class consumers. Banks that provide these value propositions will engage with their customers on an emotional level, too, and achieve brand differentiation”, said Christopher Evans, Director at Collinson Group.

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